U.S. Economic Development Administration Top 5 Accomplishments of 2021
In April, EDA updated itsinvestment priorities, which provide an overarching framework to ensure that its investment portfolio – ranging from planning to infrastructure construction - contributes to local efforts to build, improve, or better leverage economic assets that allow businesses to succeed and regional economies to prosper and become more resilient. Notably, ‘Equity’ was added to the top of EDA’s investment priority list. EDA is committed to working with populations and underserved communities that have been denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic prosperity in the past.
In July, Secretary Raimondo announced six programs to equitably distribute the $3 billion in American Rescue Plan funding allocated to the bureau toinvest in distressed and underserved communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. This historic investment will support bottom-up, middle-out economic development focused on advancing equity, creating good-paying jobs, helping workers to develop in-demand skills, building economic resilience, and accelerating the economic recovery for the industries and communities hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. This is the largest local economic development initiative that the Department of Commerce has ever made.
In September, EDA announced that 50 organizations — including nonprofits, institutions of higher education, state government agencies, and other entrepreneurship-focused organizations — from 26 states will receive grants totaling $36.5 million to support programs that fuel innovation and tech-based economic development. The grants are part of EDA’s “Build to Scale” program, which aims to accelerate technology entrepreneurship by increasing inclusive access to business support and startup capital.
After convening government-to-government consultations earlier in the year, EDA published updated regulations in September to create greater opportunities for tribal participation in EDA grant programs. The new rule, published in the Federal Register, extends EDA Tribal eligibility to include for-profit entities that are wholly owned by and established for the benefit of a Tribe.
On October 21, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced that the EDA had begun awarding its historic $3 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating the economic recovery. The first awards announced were $24 million in grants to states and territories across the nation to support statewide planning efforts to boost economic development, enhance U.S. competitiveness, combat the climate crisis, and recover from the pandemic. Later the same day, Secretary Raimondo announced EDA’s first local investment as part of the Coal Communities Commitment. On November 4, an additional $30 million in statewide planning grants were announced and on November 8, $314 million in State Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation grants were awarded.